July 13, 2020 / 4:42 AM / 24 days ago

China's start-up index hits 4-1/2-year high on earnings improvement hopes

* SSEC +1.3%, CSI300 +1.6%, HSI +0.9%

* HK->Shanghai Connect daily quota used 6.8%, Shanghai->HK daily quota used 4.5%

* FTSE China A50 +1.0%

SHANGHAI, July 13(Reuters) - China stocks firmed on Monday, with the tech-heavy start-up index hitting its highest in more than 4-1/2 years on hopes of earnings improvement, even as regulators vowed to crack down on illegal market behaviour.

** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.27% at 3,426.21, while the blue-chip CSI300 index was up 1.63%.

** The start-up board index led gains, rising 3% to its highest since Nov. 26, 2015. It climbed 12.8% in the previous week, its best since its launch in 2010, and has gained nearly 60% so far this year.

** "We expect evident marginal improvement in start-up companies' results in the second quarter, given the low earnings base in the same period last year and as their earnings growth slowed significantly in the first quarter of 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak," Zheshang Securities wrote in a report.

** Investors also cheered Beijing's continued support to bolster its economy.

** China's policy steps to support the economy have gained obvious results and it will step up financial support for firms and employment in the second half, a central bank official said on Friday.

** New bank lending in China rose 22.3% in June as authorities continued to boost credit and ease policy to get the world's second-largest economy humming again after a sharp coronavirus-induced contraction.

** China will show "zero tolerance" towards securities and accounting fraud and will step up a crackdown on major capital-markets crimes, financial regulators said after a meeting of the Financial Stability Development Committee.

** The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory vowed to strengthen regulation of capital flows and crack down on speculation in the financial sector to prevent asset bubbles.

** The crackdown on illegal capital flows into the stock market will not change the big trend of a bull run, but will promote reasonable allocations of financial resources, helping the healthy development of China's stock market, Zheshang Securities said in the report.

** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 0.92% to 10,638.22, while the Hang Seng Index was up 0.92% at 25,963.07.

** Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.93%, while Japan's Nikkei index was up 1.91%.

** The yuan was quoted at 6.9988 per U.S. dollar, 0.02% firmer than the previous close of 7.

** As of 04:02 GMT, China's A-shares were trading at a premium of 31.97% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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